- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

DUNDALK, Md. (AP) — A woman who says she gave her infant daughter methadone to keep her from fussing has been sentenced to eight years in prison for causing the baby’s death.

Gina M. Camponeschi’s daughter, Adriana, was born last July addicted to heroin and cocaine because of Camponeschi’s drug use during her pregnancy, prosecutors said.

The first 30 days of the newborn’s life were spent in a hospital as she underwent detoxification.

Twenty-three days after Adriana was released into her mother’s care, Camponeschi gave the infant “enough methadone to coat her tongue” to stop her crying.

The methadone had been prescribed to treat Camponeschi’s addiction.

The next morning, Camponeschi found her daughter pale, cold and not moving. Adriana was pronounced dead at a hospital less than an hour later.

The medical examiner said the baby died of methadone intoxication and ruled the death a homicide.

At sentencing Monday, defense attorney Robert Feldman asked a Baltimore County Circuit Court to sentence the 35-year-old woman to treatment rather than prison.

“Ms. Camponeschi’s mind-set was that this baby was suffering withdrawal from drugs,” Mr. Feldman said. “She is an experienced user of recreational drugs and is familiar with withdrawal,” he said.

Her criminal record includes convictions for PCP distribution and possession in 1992, heroin possession in 2002 and prostitution in 2003.

Prosecutor John Magee noted that Camponeschi had left treatment programs four times over the years without completing them.

“She was using drugs with Adriana in the womb. She was using drugs after Adriana died. She was using drugs right up to the day she was arrested in this case,” he said. “If there’s any greater wake-up call, I don’t know what it is — the death of her own child at her own hand.”

Judge Timothy Martin said he might be willing to modify the eight-year prison term in a year or more so that Camponeschi can be treated for her addictions.

“I don’t mean to be melodramatic,” the judge said, “but there’s a little, tiny coffin buried somewhere with a little baby in it, and she’s responsible.”

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